From our very own Prime Minister heading the celebrations for International Yoga Day to watching my friends pester me to tag along with them for an early morning Power Yoga session, ‘yoga’ seems to have become an international trend – something that has led to a boom in India’s fitness industry as well. With every other person putting up a video of themselves attempting to perfect the ‘salamba sirsasana’ (that unimaginable headstand), yoga is now a part of everyone’s life, in some way or the other. After all, with its snazzy yoga mats, exotic fitness retreats and the guarantee of a healthier life, who wouldn’t be attracted? But to step out in search for appropriate gear can often lead you to a road with only a dead-end in sight.
A similar hunt for a good quality fitness mat in 2016 led Alok and Harneet, the founders of Kosha Yoga Co, to realise that to buy a yoga mat in India meant choosing from synthetic, slippery PVC mats that are not only hazardous to the environment but also a potential liability to practicing yoga. Armed with Harneet’s knowledge as a certified Yoga practitioner and Alok’s curiosity to further explore this emerging sociocultural trend, the idea of Kosha Yoga Co was born — an environmentally-conscious fitness brand offering high-quality yoga mats and other accessories.
From weather resistant yoga bags and meditation pillows to yoga blocks made from natural cork, many of Kosha Yoga Co’s products originate from the underprivileged localities of Dharavi in Mumbai. “We always wanted to do more than simply donate funds. So, we decided to make ancillary products that needn’t be produced in factories, but could be made by hand. Currently we’re working with 5 superwomen from Dharavi who hand-make Yoga bags. Seeing their eagerness to grow and learn, we aim to have an entire Dharavi-made product range in the future”, they tell Homegrown. They work in collaboration with Rumana Salaam, an enterprising woman who helped the couple get in touch and imbibe the women of Dharavi with tailoring skills and a steady source of income.
However, this isn’t the only social cause at the heart of Kosha’s philosophy. If you scroll through their Instagram, you’ll come across many images of animals. This is because both Alok and Harneet are huge animal-lovers and for every Kosha mat that is purchased, a certain amount is donated to Kalote Animal Trust, a shelter for rescued animals located on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Kosha’s products are made using natural materials like tree rubber, organically grown cotton, cork, flaxseed and organic buckwheat hull. And even though adopting such sustainable practices is both time consuming and expensive, the four-person team at Kosha is quite clear about what keeps them motivated, “Developing ethical and sustainable products is undoubtedly more challenging. But for us it is a labor of love because these are causes that we believe in even in our personal lives. We were well aware of how this decision would affect our functioning.”
Tried and tested by members of Mumbai’s ever growing yoga fraternity, Kosha Yoga Co’s mats and other wellness accessories are pioneering in an already nascent industry. However, with Indian consumers now starting to look at high-quality fitness products as an investment instead of a luxury, the future does look bright.
You can visit Kosha Yoga Co’s website here.
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